Just after the US election in November 2016, copy editor Meredith Forrester tweeted back to one of President Trump’s tweets with corrections to his grammar and punctuation. Then she made a habit of it.

“It was just after he'd tweeted about 'winning the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally',” she says. “I realised then that he'd probably continue to use Twitter as an outlet, despite making grammatical or spelling errors, and that irritated me. So when one of his tweets the next day had a grammatical problem, I went for it.

“I didn't think about doing it as a series then, but that tweet made people laugh and I enjoyed writing it and sticking it to him. I decided it could be a series when I tweeted at him about his 'SEE YOU IN COURT' comma splice; even more people had a good time with that one.”

It’s hard to address all of Trump’s mistakes in 140 characters. So she’s compiled some of the best-worst examples into a zine called Okay But. It breaks down some of Trump’s crimes against language and explains, in grammatical terms, what he’s doing wrong. She also hopes the zine will make folks more comfortable with the rules of grammar by explaining them in an entertaining and friendly way.

Forrester is part of Melbourne writing studio, publisher and shop The Good Copy in Collingwood. She has many gripes with Trump’s writing, but one area she wants to see him improve on in particular is consistency.

“His use of dashes – he uses hyphens instead of dashes, or he’ll use three hyphens for a dash, and have weird spaces around his dashes – that’s pretty bad,” she explains. “He’s never consistent.

“Also, he uses capital letters for generic nouns all the time. Like, ‘Witch Hunt’ is his favourite thing to put capital letters on, at the moment anyway, but you don’t need to put capital letters on ‘witch hunt’, mate. He does it because he thinks it’s important.”

Exclamation marks are also a problem.

“He uses so many. I saw [a tweet] about that terrible plane crash ... and he said: ‘Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!’. And I was like, ‘Oh gosh, that’s not the right tone’.”

This one gets to the heart of what Forrester – and any copy editor – is trying to achieve: clarity of meaning.

“[Grammar and punctuation are] all about getting an idea across really clearly. And if you know how to construct sentences ... then that really helps the reader.”

Okay But is available here.

The Good Copy runs regular punctuation and grammar classes in Sydney and Melbourne.

thegoodcopy.com.au